Wednesday, September 10, 2008

YES!! I'm in!!

I went for my appointment today with my CI Audi, Dr. Michael Scott, and a student who performed my evaluation. This time I was tested with my hearing aid in and they also put an aid in my deaf, right ear but I couldn't hear anything out of it. This one was particularly nerve wracking since I had to repeat sentences. I could only "guess" half of them, at most, and I started having my usual panic attack.
But the good part was after the test when they told me that I am definitely a candidate!! I'm so THRILLED! Another shocker was that I've been reading it takes 4 weeks after surgery before activation, Dr. Scott said not anymore, it takes only 2 weeks! Cool!!
Also, my MRI came back normal, no brain tumors, whew.

I wasn't sure which implant device to go with so I was given a huge packet with lots of info for the Nucleus Freedom, Med El and Advanced Bionics Harmony. They all seem so amazing that it's going to be a tough decision! There's also tons of info about how it all works, including a cool DVD explaining how sound travels normally and with the implant, etc.

My next appointment is on October 1, and I'll see both Dr. Weber and Dr. Scott. Looks like we'll be scheduling surgery from there, I think, I hope. :-)

Everyone there is so nice and helpful, I feel so lucky to have these people 'hear' for me!


lylasnanny said...

Hi, I found your blog thru All Deaf. I love the banner at the top! did you design it? oh yeah I'm "Libgby' on all deaf, but my typing is sometimes name is really "Libby" Have a good day...keep blogging

Kim said...

Hi Dawne

I'm Kim and I have an Advanced Bionics CI. I love it!! It's helped me tremendously in my ability to hear. I'll be happy to help answer any questions you have.

Our you can come check out the forum


Abbie said...

Hi! Welcome to the blogosphere! I found your blog through Alldeaf. I have a blog myself where it has a captioned activation video at Chronicles of a Bionic Woman. I have I invite you to read my blog post where I do a mini-biography of my hearing so you can get a sense of who I am - hearing wise.

My Hearing History

I have copies of audiograms on that particular blog post that you can compare with yours. If you don't know much about your hearing loss, now is the time to learn and I would be more then happy to help you. I can relate to you with being a lip reader as I am one myself. After twenty some odd years, I don't think I will ever stop lip reading but I will say that it is much easier to read lips with a cochlear implant then with a super powered hearing aid blasting in my ear.

The implant company I went with is Advanced Bionics. I was lucky that my center works with all three cochlear implant brands, Advanced Bionics, Cochlear Americas (Nucleus) and Med-El. It came down to choosing between AB and Cochlear because I didn’t care for the statistic rate and oddly shaped “gun” looking processor that Med-El is so famous for. Therefore, I nixed Med-El. I obtained information packets from each company, along with their white papers that are scientific papers on their research. I chose Advanced Bionics for many reasons that I have detailed below.

1. The style and function of the AB's Harmony processor is similar to my hearing aid, they both have three programs. It just felt right when I held it in my hand. It felt a little lighter then Cochlear processor. It has three programs and a T-Coil that you can have activated with any one of your programs. Cochlear has four programs but I feel the style is a little clunky for my taste. I find that most of AB recipients eventually settle down with one program for every day use. I have a map dedicated for everyday use, telephone and music but I use my everyday for all three. I hardly have to switch. I contribute this to the compression technology that AB has. I just attended a hearing loss convention where I was amongst many people with all different brands. I found that Cochlear recipients were fiddling with their controls more so then the AB recipients. I admit the extra slots in the beginning are helpful when they are trying to figure out what programs best suits you but it becomes redundant afterward.

2. It fits my active lifestyle. I needed a processor that would put up with all my hour and half long spinning session and kickboxing classes. It is very water resistant and I was drenched! I use the global dry and store box to dry my CI out every single day.

3. In 2004, Advanced Bionics issued a vendor recall. There were two companies that provided part to them but Vendor B had moisture issues that eventually led to the failure of the implant that did not come up in normal research. They have resolved it then by paying for re-implantation. They have not had a problem since 2004. They have stopped doing business with Vendor B once they realized their success rate fell below 99% with Vendor B but their statistics are amazingly close to 100% now. The fact that they went ahead and issued the recall themselves said a lot about the company integrity and loyalty to their clients. Too many companies would just ignore that, they did not and I respect them for it. The FCC just fined them over this issue and AB has settled with the CEO paying a portion of the fine. Besides their customer service is Phenomenal with a capital P. Any question I had, it was answered. Cochlear did not want to answer some questions and that disturbed me. However, this is my personal experience because I have heard other getting a better response.

Because of this situation, the other companies have developed marketing techniques to highlight the fact that AB had failures associated with their implant because of Vender B. Marketing strategies are the devil sometimes and some of what you learned is inaccurate. When I was researching CI's, I had a hard time believing that Cochlear has a one in a 1,000-failure rate. Please look at this unbiased website, the FDA MAUDE Database: This is a database maintained by the FDA that lists all the reports of adverse events such as malfunctions and failures with medical devices.

If you type in the Brand Name field, Nucleus and the in the Manufacturer field, Cochlear and hit search (I kept the date the same, feel free to change it though!). If you go back to the search form, and type in HiRes 90k in the brand name field and hit search. I left the manufacturer field blank because Advanced Bionics split from a company last year. You will see that cochlear has more reports associated with theirs then AB does.

4. Advanced Bionics uses rechargeable batteries. Cochlear does use both but I do not mind relying on rechargeable batteries because as it stands now my life is surrounded by them. I did not feel like dealing with the insurance company for reimbursements of batteries every time I ran out. I get amazing time with my extended batteries, over two days! They have smaller batteries though for the little guys or people with little ears.

5. Advanced Bionics is so far ahead with technology. They are constantly researching to improve on their speech strategies. I find the latest technology Fidelity 120 to be awesome for speech comprehension and music! Cochlear just put out a new strategy called smart sounds and not too many people are giving it rave reviews. The one thing that I discovered in Reno is that Cochlear users seem to have a 2-3 delay in understanding what they heard. This was brought to my attention before I went to Reno by an audio engineer who is an uncle of an adorable 3-year-old girl who was implanted with Cochlear. I thought he was being overly cautious and perhaps anal but after being around other Cochlear brand users, it was confirmed. I am very happy to report that I do not suffer from a delay with Advanced Bionics.

6. They have this set of ear hooks, one of them is a T-Mic. You have two microphones, one in the processor and one in the T-Mic ear hook that is pointed towards the canal of the ear and it collects sound as the natural ear does. This feature is a tremendous help in noisy situations and using the phone like a normal hearing person. Because of this technology, I can even use a regular Bluetooth wireless headset because of it. Also, an independent study (Spahr, Dorman, and Loiselle: Performance of Patients Using Different Cochlear Implant Systems: Effects of Input Dynamic Range in Ear & Hearing of May, 2007) completed at Arizona State University and the Mayo Clinic, the performance of patients with identical performance in quiet who used devices from all three manufacturers was evaluated for word understanding in noise. The patients who used Advanced Bionics cochlear implants performed best in challenging listening environments. If you have small ears, they have a pediatric version as well.

I hope that I helped you understand the reasons why I chose Advanced Bionics. I strongly suggest you log onto Hearing Journey and talk to many CI users, mothers of CI children that has gotten Advanced Bionics, Audiologists or others that are just starting the process like yourself. We have a chat every Thursday that officially starts at 10pm but people start arriving as early as 8pm. It would be a good place to get information from expert Audiologists and experienced CI users...

I'll be looking forward to following along with your new journey back to sound! :)

elizabeth said...

This is a great blog! I hope you'll consider adding it to the aggregator at Deaf Village ( -- we'd love to have you as part of our community!

Best of luck as you begin your CI journey!

Dawne said...

Thanx for all the luck and great comments!! I'm so glad I found all these great websites as I feel I have a much better idea what to expect. And finding all you wonderful supportive people who have been there, I finally feel like I found a place where I belong and I'm not alone!


Laura's medical journey said...

ACE! look forward to reading your CI story!
You will have an amazing experience! Good luck! x